Getting paid on time can be one of the most frustrating and time-consuming challenges small businesses have to face. Tracking down late payments can feel like a full-time job – and one you don’t have time to spend on.
If you’ve been there before, and chances are good that you have, then there are some smart ways you can approach late-paying clients. You’ve done the work. Now it’s time to get paid the money you deserve. Here’s what you can do:
- Start with a reminder – If your client’s payment is overdue, one of the first places you can start is by following up with a simple email. You may even automate this process or create a template you lift and leverage for times like this. Stay polite. We’ve all got a million things going on. Give your client the benefit of the doubt with your reminder email, and re-attach your invoice and accepted payment methods to prompt them to take action. If you have late fees as part of your payment terms, be sure to highlight those in your email as well.
- Time for a phone call – If the reminder email doesn’t trigger any action, pick up the phone. Again, remain polite and attempt to work out a solution. The goal of your call is to secure payment over the phone or get your client to commit to specific action. If needed, ask to be connected directly with the client’s billing team.
- Refine your payment process – It may be too late to make changes with your existing late-paying client, but implement processes to try to quell future problems. One recommendation is to secure a credit card up front to keep on file. Let them know that they will have three opportunities to authorize payment. If they do not respond to three emails, then include in your contract that you are authorized to charge the card on file. Other examples of ways to refine your payment process include being sure to establish clear payment deadlines in your contracts and consider offering incentives for early payment (and of course penalties for late payments).
- Contact a small business attorney for help – If you’re ever in doubt about how you should approach a late-paying client, get in touch with a small business attorney for help. They will help you understand your options for getting paid and advise on next steps. Sometimes a formal demand letter from a lawyer is enough to get them to take action and pay up. Filling a suit or taking a client to small claims court could be an option as well, but again, consult an attorney before deciding if pursuing legal action is the right choice for your situation.
Getting paid is an essential part of running a small business. At Silverberg|Brito, PLLC, we’re at your side to ensure your late-paying clients follow through with payment. If you have a small business question or concern, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with our Florida commercial law team.